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Maybe it never came to your town, maybe you saw the trailer and thought it looked stupid, maybe you just completely forgot and when you remembered when it was too late, or maybe you’ve just never heard of it. No matter the reason you probably missed some very quality movies this year. Luckily you now have a list of the Top 10 you should see for one reason or another.
10) Chronicle – January (currently on DVD/Blu-Ray)
Man January was a long time ago wasn’t it? Perhaps the better question is why this seemingly B-action/sci-fi movie is on this list (believe me, when I saw the trailer I thought it looked dumb too). The main reason this gets the 10 spot is because director Josh Trank is the new hot name in Hollywood. He has been given the opportunity to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise after only having made one feature, which is this one. I also have to represent for Michael B. Jordan of The Wire and Friday Night Lights fame.
9) Dredd – September (available January 13th, 2013 on DVD/Blu-Ray)
Karl Urban (Bones McCoy in J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek reboot) plays a perfect Judge Dredd, based off the comic book in this early Fall release. He never takes his helmet off though, so you might not be able to recognize him. If you are looking for ultra-violence in a claustrophobic setting Dredd is the right movie for you. The violence is unrelenting but the gore isn’t trumped up. The juxtaposition of the dingy and dirty future world in which this movie is set with the beautiful colors and slow-motion of the effects when someone takes a hit of the drug Slo-Mo is something to behold.
8) Bernie – April (available on Netflix Instant and DVD/Blu-Ray)
This faux-documentary from Richard Linklater is notable for two reasons. First is the fact this movie is based on a true and bizarre story, and Linklater allows the audience to decide if Bernie’s actions were justifiable or not making sure to try his best to not slant the opinion one way or the other. The second is Jack Black’s incredible performance. Jack Black and Best Actor Oscar are not two things that would seem to every go together but he has received a lot of early year buzz for his portrayal of Bernie and deservedly so.
7) Cabin in the Woods – April (available on Netflix Instant and DVD/Blu-Ray)
I am not a big fan of horror movies but luckily this really isn’t a horror movie. Instead it plays with the familiar plot themes and elements of horror movies and gives a mythical explanation as to why horror movies exist. Where the movie truly shines is within the compound that holds the mythical creature at bay as a whole team of scientists have gathered to watch their horror movie play out on the unsuspecting young adults at the cabin. It will still make you jump but it the premise makes this movie more fun than most horror movies that take themselves way too seriously.
6) Goon –March (available on Netflix Instand and DVD/Blu-Ray)
A movie that almost received no publicism, Goon may be my personal favorite movie of 2012. Seann William Scott plays a hockey enforcer who is quiet, good-hearted and shy. His performance is the complete antithesis of the characters he has become known for and he pulls it off incredibly well, whenever Scott plays the straight man in a movie it is something to see. Goon is a heartfelt romantic comedy that doesn’t forget it’s a sports movie despite its romantic plotline and the chemistry between Scott’s character and Allison Pill is very sweet. Liev Schreiber plays the villain and you can’t go wrong with that.
5) Beasts of the Southern Wild – June (available on DVD/Blu-Ray)
The indie darling and complete surprise of the summer was Beasts of the Southern Wild. The main character is a five-year-old girl, the film is incredibly grainy, and the story is almost non-existant. Yet Beasts of the Southern Wild is a completely worthwhile and might be necessary viewing for any fan of the cinema. It is visceral, unrelenting, and beautiful despite the lack of an HD sheen. It is not the best movie of the year, in fact it is far from it, but if you don’t see it you have missed out on something entirely different and remarkable from most movies released nowadays.
4) Looper – September (available on December 31st, 2012 on DVD/Blu-Ray)
There isn’t much more I could say that I haven’t already said in my original review. Looper is a very good sci-fi movie that doesn’t rely on the crutch of grand set pieces, sweeping space battles, or beautiful and foreign worlds. If you are a fan of sci-fi, crime movies, or even pastoral dramas this is worth checking out.
3) Jiro Dreams of Sushi – March (available on Netflix Instant and DVD/Blu-Ray)
A foreign documentary based on an 85 year-old man who owns one of the best restaurants in the world doesn’t sound like your typical entertaining fare. But there’s something about Jiro Dreams of Sushi that makes it endearing as well as awe inspiring. Jiro is a true master of his craft, the Picasso of sushi and the film makes sure to have more than enough shots of the master at work. Really, though, the movie is made interesting by the other characters, his sons, his former apprentice who has opened up his own shop, his current cooks that have slaved and practiced making one dish for so long they burst out in tears when Jiro compliments their efforts. Jiro, his restaurant, and this movie are unassuming and stunning all at once.
2) Moonrise Kingdom – May (available on DVD/Blu-Ray)
I am a big Wes Anderson fan, the director of Moonrise Kingdom. This may be his most serious movie to date despite it’s typical Wes Anderson-ness. However, as familiar as it feels to his some of his previous work it also feels completely foreign. Taking place during the nebulous development period before puberty but after childhood, the typical adult-like children, an Anderson staple, fall in love and run away from home. In parts it’s fairly realistic material take incredibly weird and unrealistic turns which are jarring, especially since this movie lacks some of the inherent goofiness of most Anderson films. Still, its charm and awkward characters and situations suck you in and won’t release you until the movie has finally ended.
1) The Master – May (maybe still in theaters, probably will get a re-release closer to the Academy Awards)
The plot is loose. The themes are heavy. The acting is great. The Master is a cinematic triumph in that despite its lack of typical plot points throughout (only Beasts of the Southern Wild can truly rival) it is still entirely engrossing. It takes you on a crazy journey as Lancaster (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character) tries to civilize the beast that is Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix). Phoenix outshines Hoffman and when you throw in some Amy Adams to boot the performances really are the driving force. There is something eerie and mesmerizing about The Master that makes you want to turn away but doesn’t allow you.